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Should we be setting our sights on lads' mags and internet porn as the next leg of Let Girls be Girls?

(496 Posts)
JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 28-Jul-10 17:58:06

Following on from our Let Girls Be Girls campaign, we're thinking about what we might do next in the area of campaigning against premature sexualisation. We know that many of you are concerned about explicitly sexual imagery on the covers of lads' mags and the Sunday Sport, particularly when these publications are displayed at child's-eye level. We also know that some of you are worried about the ease with which children can access frankly pornographic imagery - some of it violent and disturbing - on the internet, whether on PCs or mobile phones.

We'd like to canvass Mumsnetters' views on these and related issues. Are you angry or embarrassed about lads' mags in plain view, or are you not too bothered? Do you consider the Sunday Sport or Zoo magazine to be pornographic, or merely cheeky? Is child access to internet pornography something that concerns you? If so, who do you think should be responsible for filtering out this content: parents/carers, or the internet service providers? If you have already set up parental controls on your computers at home, how effective do you think the filtering software is? An internet entrepreneur in the US has just started selling domain names ending in .xxx, with the intention of making this domain the "red light district" of the internet - see details here; does this sound like a good idea to you?

Obviously porn and sexuality is always a touchy <cough> subject. Just to make it clear, we?re not interested in clamping down on the adult use of (legal) porn; we purely concerned with its availability to children.

We would be very grateful to know your thoughts.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 28-Jul-10 18:04:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SirBoobAlot Wed 28-Jul-10 18:06:07

I would like to see pornography magazines restricted to "adult" shops. I don't think they are suitable to be selling in shops that children are walking into, even if they are out of direct eye line.

As for PC access; that has to be a delicate balance, though think it has to mainly fall to parents to set up access levels on family computers.

foureleven Wed 28-Jul-10 18:06:15

I would be 100% behind this.

Its not just the visability of 'lads mags' in shops for kids to see but the way that they are marketed as comicy rather than 'adult'

The fact they are pocket money prices and the whole layout makes them like young boys magazines.

Sorry , ionly have asecond on here so no time for detail, but yes I think a good idea.

SirBoobAlot Wed 28-Jul-10 18:06:32

Oh, and yes I think its a great idea grin

foureleven Wed 28-Jul-10 18:08:02

Oh but also, its not the fact that its too 'hard core' or too much nudity for little ones to see. I couldnt care less if my kids saw 100 naked people lined up. Its the negative way women and sex are portrayed that is inapproprite for impressionable children to see.

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Wed 28-Jul-10 18:11:26

I think the .xxx is a great idea, it will promote the sites to those adults who are capale of making their own choices and make it easier for parents to use filters. HOWEVER I question whether we would be complaicant (sp?) and assume that all other .org/net/com/cco.uks etc are safe for children when it may have violent/degrading imagery that is just as damaging as the overt sexual stuff.

I think the pictures on the front of all magazines should be rethought for the sake of young children Boys and Girls. they look in the newsagents at images of thin airbrushed totty every day in all manner of magazines (people friend and crochet monthly aside) and are led to believe that this is what normality is and that this is what we should aspire to.
So yes, target the plastic boob brigade of FHM and Zoo etc but it could be so easily widened to cosmo and other teenage girl magazines.

(sorry rant over blush)

foureleven Wed 28-Jul-10 18:16:01

Greyskull, it could be widened to girls magazines too if we're talking about negative images as in all models being thin and pretty.

But to me, whilst that is a huge worry, the primary concern is the women in Nuts/Zoo posing in a way that infantilizes or degrades them.. Lets tackle that first then look at the bigger picture. In my opinion.

ISNT Wed 28-Jul-10 18:18:55

Definitely think that publications that have scantily clad women in procative poses on the covers should be top shelf, or ideally, brown paper back or over the counter. So that's "lads mags", porn mags, and newspapers like the Star (is it the star I mean? I think so).

I don't see why it should have to be a normal part of my daily life, by myself or with the children, to be confronted with images of women in string bikinis bending over.

Porn on teh internet - my children are too young to be browing yet. I imagine that when teh time comes I will be able to set up adequate child filters (I hope so anyway). But not sure where that leaves all the children whos parents don't (for whatever reason). Plus browing on mobile phones is a big problem I understand. Not sure how you deal with that TBH. maybe they could have "under 18" tarriffs which would not allow access to everything.

I do think this would be a brilliant thing to campaign for though - about the magazines. That really pisses me off.

ISNT Wed 28-Jul-10 18:19:58

*provocative

mountainmonkey Wed 28-Jul-10 18:21:51

Agree with Ms Greyskull- tis the portrayal of women in all sorts of publications. Though the objectification of women is so deeply ingrained in our society how would you even begin to root it out?

ByThePowerOfGreyskull Wed 28-Jul-10 18:24:11

foureleven you are absolutely right , there are levels of image some worse than others but I think that mountainmonkey has just used the phrase I had been trying to think of, the objectification of women. I hate it!!

foureleven Wed 28-Jul-10 18:28:33

horrid isnt it.

Excellent campaign MN. Whats next then? How do we get involved?

frankie3 Wed 28-Jul-10 18:29:46

Yes I feel very strongly about this. I have 2 DS's and feel very worried about what the future holds for them.

When I was young it was normal for boys to look at Playboy magazine, Mayfair, etc, these are similar to Nuts magazine now, which are far from top shelf magazines and are widely available and are seen as normal magazines for men to look at, just like Cosmopolitan for women.

I am worried that it is the norm that teenagers have access to porn on the internet. This is totally different to the old fashioned porn magazines of a generation ago and real hard core porn is seen as the norm on the internet. Indeed, a lot of porn is looked at as a joke, and passed around like a comedy sketch. A lot of men do not realise that the women taking part may be vulnerable in all sorts of ways and are being exploited. TV programmes like Confessions of a Call Girl do not help.

I am very strict about internet access for my DS's, and do not let them have free access to sites like You Tube, which has links from each page to more dubious pages. We have parental filter on our PC but I found my DS looking for videos of animals as he likes dogs, and there was a link on the page to 'fake' films of animals having sex. I know that most people I am friendly with do not check what sites there children are looking at.

So YES YES YES I am behind this campaign as I want my DS's to grow up with a healthy attitude to sex and women.

BellevilleRendezvous Wed 28-Jul-10 18:44:32

I would definitely back this campaign.

I was very shocked by some of the reactions on other forums and by a few (newly registered!) posters on MN in response to the Dr Pepper/ Facebook/ scat porn issue.

Their take was that this was nothing outrageous, that all 14 year olds (and younger) would be looking at porn on the internet, it was a part of life, funny, thre's far worse out there ... I couldn't believe how normalised porn, and not just vanilla porn has become - thanks in the main to the internet I believe.

Of course some 14 year olds will be trying to look at porn, and if they were just able to find the softer stuff I would not be so worried (although it's not ideal) - it's the issue of how much and how extreme that bothers me most.

Baileysismyfriend Wed 28-Jul-10 18:53:53

Yes!

I was in a petrol station the other day and all it sold was dirty magazines - well apart from petrol obviously - they were all at child's eye level too, awful.

BeenBeta Wed 28-Jul-10 19:02:12

While I support the idea behind the Let Girls be Girls campaign and also feel the same about explicit material easily accessible to children I think this might backfire - which would be a shame.

What I suggest is perhaps MN should campaign actively against extreme body imagery in fashion and teen magazines as well as TV and billboard adverts. In other words the kind of images a girl is very likely to be seeing many more times a day than the front cove of FHM/LOaded/Nuts etc.

There is at the moment a momentum building against the use of airbrused female images in the media and there was a campaign against using underweight models. MN might be better to put its weight behnd those campaigns and focus on getting normal female body images in the media.

My concern is that focussing on porn will cause the message to be lost under a blizard of media comment that MN is anti-porn and lots of jokey references to a bunch of modern day Mary Whitehouses and journalists combing the more risque threads for examples of MN hypocricy.

dittany Wed 28-Jul-10 19:09:06

I reckon when you've got Coke sending references to scat
porn to a fourteen year old girl's website, worrying that someone thinks you're like Mary Whitehouse would probably be a skewed priority.

I think this would be an excellent part of the campaign. Girls (and boys) are not being protected by the ongoing pornographisation of our culture. It is shoved in all of our faces, including children's and children don't have the sort of defenses against this stuff that adults do.

frankie3 Wed 28-Jul-10 19:10:36

This is precisely why we need the campaign.
BeenBeta - what is so wrong about being anti-porn? We are not anti mainstream porn that is soley for the use of adults, but we are against horrifc hard core porn being avaible for young teenagers to view, and also against porn magazines being so freely avaible for children to look at. I have friends who have Nuts magazines etc around their houses where children can look at them.

This is also contributing to the body image problems that women now fight against. I would assume that most men of the age of 17 or 18 have viewed pornagraphic images on the internet. When they start having sex they will then have unreal views of what women should look like (ie totally shaven) and will have unreal views on what women should be doing (ie anal sex etc).

sunshine74 Wed 28-Jul-10 19:20:42

I would support this. It is an issue that bothers me a lot. When I go into our local co-op with my two young girls I cringe at some of the images on the front of the Sunday papers that are easily visible at their eye level.
I very rarely get the chance to post on mumsnet but I would absolutely support a campaign along the lines of the one you have described.

archstanton Wed 28-Jul-10 19:21:09

I agree with Beenbeta!

What I'd really like to see is part of the KS3 citizenship curriculum to include teaching teenagers about airbrushing etc. A curriculum pack full of lots of before and after pics to show how unrealistic most of these pictures are.

I do not want my DS growing up believing that all women look like that all the time and to then think that most women he knows fall short.

I'd sometimes wonder if a mag designed specifically for teenage boys is the answer. The girls in it could be consenting bikini/underwear models. But, crucially 2 points;
1) No airbrushing allowed
2) The mag contains lots of articles showing women doing everyday but maybe exciting stuff that doesn't include posing in next to nothing. So, girl athletes, girls with intersting careers etc.
You know, so he gets to see real women late teens/early 20s doing interesting stuff.

Maybe a regular feature with a girl who is really (not faking for her boyfiend) into cars.

Just a thought!

LeninGrad Wed 28-Jul-10 19:28:54

Anyone see the front cover of The Daily Star today, absolutely awful once again. I now don't shop where papers like this or lads' mags are are eye level for me or the DC.

I'm not sure we should worry too much about things backfiring. I think it's time to say that images like that are not acceptable to be on display in mainstream shops for those who don't want to see them.

We are going to look back on all this in years to come and wonder what on earth we were thinking allowing porn to be peddled to us and our kids whilst shopping for food.

PosieParker Wed 28-Jul-10 19:29:24

I think Porn is to big a fight, it is already easy to prevent a child accessing it on the home computer. I would like to see people having to sign up for porn though, as opposed to block it, iyswim.

As for lads mags, I would like it to be eye level and age appropriate and more honest about the aim and content of the mags. So Zoo could have the strap line 'this has poorly researched articles and loads of shit made up as well as cosmetically enhanced girls pretending to love lesbian sex'wink. I would like an eighteen cert on these mags, if there isn't. And it has to be displayed with porn mags so that the person purchasing is under no illusion that what they are buying is fantasy and deluded shite.

I, for one, have never let a tabloid into the house let alone a 'lads mag'. I don't want my children to have a messed up idea about women and their main purpose,.

I agree with Dittany that it distorts men's views of women and therefore a girl tries to live up to her perceived image that men want her to have. Huge breasts, tiny waist and massive lips.

So, definitely go for the lads mags (which should also be 'let boys be boys') let's see if by changing the shelf level the publishers won't change their focus? Afterall if it could just resist the nipple less front cover and promise of school girl action and reduce the smut to one article and a sexy photo shoot not sexual, I think it would be a massive step. I'm sure FHM was relatively palatable in early 90's.

PosieParker Wed 28-Jul-10 19:30:52

too bigblush

HerBeatitude Wed 28-Jul-10 19:31:09

If we worry about being demonised as prudes or Mary Whitehouse figures, we may as well just lie down and accept that we'll always be portrayed as fuck-objects and there's nothing we can do about it because we want pornographer's to like us, not laugh at us for being prudes.

Fuck that.

I think ISP's should be responsible for what they allow to stream into our homes; it's all very well that I can set up netnanny etc., but how do I know tht when my DS goes round to his friends' houses, their parents have done the same? The answer is, I don't, and it's not a reasonable proposition to say that in that case, I should keep him grounded until he's 18 and never let him go out with his mates.

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